What I learned: International Diplomacy Forum (Part 2)

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Written by William Lam, UTS Bachelor of Health Science student

To work towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, Humanitarians Affairs Asia invited young leaders from around the world to visit the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok. This event was a 3-day intensive training in diplomacy, leadership and policy development.

William was invited to travel to Bangkok and participate. In this second blog, he discusses the challenges we face in the 21st century and how they can be addressed. (Read Part 1)

In the 21st century, the big changes are caused by disruptive technology. Policymakers from all areas have to face greater challenges and public pressure at both national and international levels.

For example, social media platforms have now become vehicles for people to interact and can be a means of mass media communication. Information can also be manipulated; the public is more vulnerable than ever to fake news and misinformation of global issues without proper filters.

To resolve these issues, a framework is created with five key considerations:

  1. Prioritise: What is more important: the government or the issue?
  2. Planning: Time is of the essence. It is more important to get the messages out at the right time.
  3. Targeting your audience: Who are you talking to and have you explained why you are doing what you are doing?
  4. Story-telling: Show empathy rather than say it.
  5. Spreading the words: Convince the people and public with your arguments as they are a powerful force that can convince the government.

This framework is a valuable tool I learned during the conference. It can be used as an appropriate method to manage health information in the future. Public health issues, in recent years, are more likely to misconstrued by false information.


Why does the United Nations (UN) focus on youth development?

There is an expectation that young people like us are “the leaders of tomorrow”. But the UN has an interesting way to describe youth and want us to be involved now to achieve their Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

According to the UN, some of our key characteristics are: “ambitious”, “optimistic”, “enthusiastic”, “continue to challenge and question”, “refreshing and more academically involved with research and data”.

A piece of advice given to us by one of the speakers was:

“To be mindful and competitive to only yourself and only try to be better when compared to your former self.” 


Image courtesy of the United Nations

The role of the United Nations

With the goals of working toward humanity and environment, it is fundamental for the UN to act as a unified platform with gender equity and zero bias for global diplomatic discussion between countries. International organisations such as WHO and UNICEF work with youth to promote health equity and civil rights.

Speaking of health equity and civil rights… What about democracy?

Democracy has changed as the concept is perceived differently in each country. For example: in such an event like Brexit, it is democratic but is it fair? The answer is probably “No” as the event does cause severe consequences on the lives of many people. For policy makers, there is a subtle distinction between equal and equity. The real challenge is to differentiate them in grey areas.

Regardless of all the challenges and hard work, as the former president of UN Security Council, Prof. Kishore Mahbubani explained, the world is still going through the “best time” in history. Here are three examples:

  1. The world is currently at peace. Practically, human beings face zero threat and danger when people die in war as it happened in the past.
  2. In 1950s, 75% of the world lived in extreme poverty. Today, less than 10% of the world is living in poverty. Economic development has helped us to have better life.
  3. In 1950s, less than 1% of the population enjoyed comfortable life. Today and by 2030, more than 50% of the world population will enjoy global middle-class standard.

At the end of the day, each government and civil society needs to have a different set of goals and they must choose wisely, given limited resources.

Understanding this can help us to take a different approach when planning for a future health program, as there are more components at stake that should be considered, such as the potential conditions and economic growth of one institution.

Watch the full highlights of the International Diplomacy Forum

Find out more about studying Health Science at UTS

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